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Girl in Disguise

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Kate Warne is the first female Pinkerton detective and a desperate widow with a knack for manipulation. Descending into undercover operations, Kate is able to infiltrate the seedy side of the city in ways her fellow detectives can't. She's a seductress, an exotic foreign medium, a rich train passenger-all depending on the day and the robber, thief, or murderer she's been assigned to nab.

But is the woman she's becoming-capable of lies, swapping identities like dresses-the true Kate? Or has the real disguise been the good girl she always thought she was? As the tensions between the north and south escalate, Kate takes on a job in which the stakes have never been higher. The nation's future is at risk, even as the lines between disguise and reality begin to blur.

308 pages, Hardcover

First published March 21, 2017

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About the author

Greer Macallister

4 books878 followers
This author is also published under the pen name G.R. Macallister.

Raised in the Midwest, Greer Macallister earned her MFA in creative writing from American University. Her debut novel THE MAGICIAN'S LIE was a USA Today bestseller, an Indie Next pick, and a Target Book Club selection. Her novels GIRL IN DISGUISE (“a rip-roaring, fast-paced treat to read” - Booklist) and WOMAN 99 (“a nail biter that makes you want to stand up and cheer” - Kate Quinn) were inspired by pioneering 19th-century private detective Kate Warne and fearless journalist Nellie Bly, respectively. Her latest book, THE ARCTIC FURY, was named an Indie Next and Library Reads pick, an Amazon Best Book of the Month, and a spotlighted new release at PopSugar, Libro.fm, and Goodreads. A regular contributor to Writer Unboxed and the Chicago Review of Books, she lives with her family in Washington, DC.

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 827 reviews
Profile Image for Julie .
4,079 reviews59k followers
July 18, 2017
Girl in Disguise by Greer Macallister is a 2017 Sourcebooks Landmark publication.

‘Someone has to go first’

This is a biographical novel based on Kate Warne, the first female Pinkerton detective.

I enjoyed reading this fictional account of Kate’s life, how she convinced Pinkerton to hire her, how she eventually garnered the respect of the other detectives, trained other female operatives, and became a spy during the civil war.

What a fascinating life!

Yet, it would seem Kate was often conflicted about the lies and subterfuge, she was forced to use in order to get the job done, questioning the morality of it, while at the same time reveling in the adventure, and satisfying her need to contribute and be a productive citizen.

‘The Woman I’d become since Pinkerton hired me- excited by subterfuge, capable of any and all lies, slipping into and out of identities like dresses- was she the real me?
Had I been her all along, and the good girl I thought myself the real disguise?”

I enjoyed reading about the cases she worked, the costumes or disguises she wore, and the roles she played in order to trap the suspects. I was equally impressed with her humanity and fortitude, her loyalty, and remarkable grace under pressure and the mark she left behind for women to someday embark on careers in law enforcement.
Her story is compelling, sad in some ways, but ultimately inspiring.

Overall, this was a very interesting and absorbing read, and a must for those who enjoy historical fiction.

4 stars
Profile Image for Phrynne.
3,327 reviews2,145 followers
April 9, 2017
I was intrigued to discover that this excellent piece of historical fiction is based firmly in historical fact. The main character, Kate Warne was really the first ever female operative employed by Pinkerton's Agency in Chicago in the mid 1850s. She must have been a truly remarkable woman and this book goes a long way towards demonstrating that.
I love reading about historical detective work. It always seems charmingly naïve compared with the gritty stuff we read about in today's world. Kate spends most of this book dressing up, using a fake accent and pretending to be someone else in order to entrap the bad guys. It is delightful!
My only complaint is that she continually moves from one case to another and the book has a disjointed feel to it. That is until the start of the Civil War when Kate becomes in all practicality a spy and things begin to build to a major conclusion.
If you enjoy historical fiction then this is a book for you:)
Profile Image for Linda.
1,289 reviews1,329 followers
December 6, 2016
I received a copy of Girl in Disguise through NetGalley for an honest review. My thanks to Sourcebooks and to Greer Macallister for the opportunity.

"Do your business, but don't make no trouble."

Well, "trouble" is Kate Warne's middle name. A recent widow of a man never loved and a wandering soul herself, Kate Warne approaches Allan Pinkerton of Pinkerton National Detective Agency. It's 1856 in ol' Chicago and our girl has a lot of convincing to do. Pinkerton has never hired a female operative and he's not about to. But then this is no ordinary female.

Trading instant results with opportunity, Kate gets her strappy foot in the door. And the story starts out with snippy, straight-forward dialogue. I immediately liked the character of Kate (based on the real-life Kate Warne) and followed her joyfully through the first chapters. It was then that the cookie broke into pieces and turned into a composite of adventures and a memoir of events in Kate's life. Sure, I get the fact that the author's driving force was an overview of Kate's career. Instead, a wonderful opportunity was missed to expand into a magnetic draw of a fine series.

Greer Macallister introduces us to some hardcore male characters serving within the agency like "Blue Eyes" Tim Bellamy, Graham DeForest, and Jack Mortenson. Each agent brings a special talent to each job. We also get the additional touch of the Polish immigrant, Mrs. Borowski, who befriends Kate.

One, on-going case would have been the ticket here with enough depth rather than breadth. The writing seemed to suffer in the elasticity of more and more cases. Macallister knows how to deliver a line as Kate dons one of her disguises: "I was beginning to suspect that the main difference between rich women and whores lay mostly in the accessories."

Kate Warne seemed to have possessed all the accessories needed to live an expansive, intriguing life within the Pinkerton Agency. Please note that this is still a very worthy read in the hands of Greer Macallister. A drive down one bustling Chicago street at a time would have driven the reader to seek out future adventures. Perhaps that's a carriage ride for another day.
Profile Image for "Avonna.
1,203 reviews367 followers
April 7, 2017
Check out all of my reviews at: http://avonnalovesgenres.com

GIRL IN DISGUISE by Greer Macallister is a historical fiction book based on the life of Kate Warne, the first female Pinkerton agent. I always love to read about the “first” females in any role and this being the first detective agency in the U.S. made it sound even more interesting. Kate’s story is perfectly suited to be told in as a historical fiction due to the fact that a lot of the actual paperwork from her time in the Pinkerton agency went up in flames the Chicago Fire of 1871.

Kate was the daughter of traveling actors, who were also con-artists. She was forced into a loveless marriage that ended with her becoming a young widow and unable to have children. She is out of money with no job prospects and answers the ad for Pinkerton agents. There is always a sadness and aloneness about her, but her life has given her the basic skills to become a great detective. Pinkerton takes her on and not only does she become one of Pinkerton’s top agents, she also heads up the Female Detective division for him.

The author has written the adventures of a complicated woman, her relationship with Pinkerton himself and her interactions with the other agents in his employ. I felt the characters were all true to their time period and the situations could have happened just as written. This is a story that was very well told.

Thanks very much to Sourcebooks Landmark and Net Galley for allowing me to read this eARC in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for ♥ Sandi ❣	.
1,321 reviews18 followers
March 11, 2017
This novel was inspired by the real life of Kate Warne.
In the style of Amy Stewart's Girl Waits with Gun series or Emily McCabe's I Shall Be Near to You, Greer Macallister does a fine job of making you visualize the first female Pinkerton agent in 1856. Not only Allan Pinkerton, but Chicago has their hands full when it comes to Agent Kate Warne's detective sleuth. Unaccepted initially by her co-workers - all male - Warne is a force to be reckoned with. Through thick and thin she remains stoic, reliable and an excellent operative.
Macallister does an excellent job of research and recreating a factual person. With little known about Kate Warne, the author develops a great historical account of her life and her tenure with the Pinkerton, even though most records pertaining to Warne were destroyed in the Great Chicago Fire in 1871.
Profile Image for Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede.
1,937 reviews799 followers
April 3, 2017
Girl in Disguise, a book about the first the first female Pinkerton detective did sound like a fantastic book idea and I was thrilled to read it. I especially liked that the book is inspired by the real life on Kate Warne, a female Pinkerton detective who sadly we don't know much about.

I think the book started off good, with Kate Warne getting a chance at Pinkerton to prove that she has what it takes to be a Pinkerton detective. Her trials and tribulations you could say to prove that, despite being a woman, or actually because she is a woman that she could be a detective since she clearly demonstrated that some roles, well sometimes it takes a woman to do some jobs. However, I saw right from the start the obvious romance that would without any doubt occur later on in the book and to be totally honest that made me not that happy. I'm not against romance in books, well, not always, but in this case, it just didn't rub me the right way. Probably because I've seen it so many time before, man meets a woman, they dislike each other, but then they feel that they can't deny their growing attraction and wham bam thank you, mam!

Girl in Disguise is just not my kind of book, I even took a month long break from it and had a hard time getting inspired to return to it. It was not totally bad, I just felt that the characters never really came to life and that the storyline was too predictable in certain aspects. When the obvious romance part happened towards the end did my interested in the book fizzle out. I mean it's Civil War going on, and it should be a dangerous and intensive time for Kate and the rest of the Pinkerton, but I never felt that. Even when the story did take a surprise turn towards the end of the book did I feel anything for the characters. I was just bored.

I want to thank the publisher for providing me with a free copy through NetGalley for an honest review!
Profile Image for Karen R.
847 reviews498 followers
April 8, 2017
“I’d already applied to every possible position appropriate for a lady. Only the inappropriate ones remained.” Kate Warne

Thank you, Greer McAllister! Because of you, I discovered the inspiring and trailblazing Kate Warne - the first female operative of the Pinkerton Detective Agency. I loved everything about scrappy and smart Kate and her determination to become a successful detective.

Thank goodness Mr. Pinkerton saw something special in Kate after she walks into his office looking for a job. Kate convinces him that a woman can be useful in “worming out secrets in many places which would be impossible for a male detective.” He hires her despite backlash from his male detectives and Kate proves early on that she is meant for the job. I LOVED reading about her efforts, especially in some famous cases, including her major involvement in protecting President-Elect Lincoln from assassination. From detective work, she progressed into covert war Intelligence during the Civil War and continued espionage work post Civil War. An incredibly accomplished woman who holds a significant place in history, her story is fascinating. and as she died at such a young age - 35, I wonder what else she could have been able to accomplish if given the time?? I would love to see this made into a movie. The story has also moved me to read Allan Pinkerton’s memoir.
Profile Image for Laura Rash Wonderchick.
1,306 reviews147 followers
March 19, 2017
I'm not usually a huge fan of historical fiction but this was written in such an entertaining, quick witted fashion that it was hard to not become absorbed immediately. Kate Warne is a unique woman & truly brought to life on these pages. Excellent read!
Profile Image for Kris (My Novelesque Life).
4,660 reviews189 followers
February 6, 2021
2017; Sourcebooks Landmark

Girl in Disguise is based on a true story. Kate Warne talked her way onto Pinkerton's team and proves to a powerful tool for the organization. With this novelization we get more of Warne's personal background - though I am not sure how much of it is fact. I liked this novel but at times I felt like there were gaps and other times the story dragged on - it made the pacing awkward at times. I would recommend this novel for any one wanting to know more about the women behind Pinkerton. It is great to see more novels about real women.

***I received a complimentary copy of this ebook from the publisher through NetGalley and a physical galley through the library I worked for. Opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.***
Profile Image for Cindy Burnett (Thoughts from a Page).
575 reviews993 followers
March 11, 2017
Girl in Disguise is the story of Kate Warne, the first female detective hired by the Pinkerton Agency. Her story is fascinating and inspiring. I thoroughly enjoyed the history of the Pinkerton Agency, and its involvement in various historical figures and incidents including Abraham Lincoln. Greer Macallister makes the characters come alive while teaching the reader a lot about the Civil War era. My only quibble is that I would have preferred a slightly different ending. I cannot say more without ruining the story, but I love happy endings, and I kept hoping this story would end differently. Girl in Disguise is worth the read, and the cover is absolutely fantastic. Thanks to Sourcebooks Landmark and NetGalley for the chance to read this ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Kathryn.
152 reviews4 followers
August 24, 2016
Girl in Disguise is a fictional account of the career of Kate Warne, the first female Pinkerton detective. This first person narrative reads like a casebook of Mrs. Warne, and although the narrator tells us a lot, it is difficult to feel connected to her through this novel. In real life, there is very little known about Warne's personal life and many of the Pinkerton records were lost in the Chicago fire in 1871. She was close enough to Allen Pinkerton to be buried in his family's cemetery, but other than that, nothing is known of her personal life. The novel begins with Warne applying for a job as detective, and then takes the reader through many cases, including two involving Abraham Lincoln. Along with way, there are glimpses of her relationships with fellow detectives, as well as her hiring of some more women. The story is rather dry and although I was interested in knowing something about Kate Warne, I was left feeling that more could have been dramatized.
Profile Image for Kate Quinn.
Author 26 books24.7k followers
June 6, 2018
"Girl In Disguise" is a love story between a woman and her job. I'm a sucker for books like that, and thoroughly enjoyed this one, happily following alongside the resourceful Kate Warne as she makes her way through hostile 1850s Chicago, first getting herself hired as Pinkerton's first female detective, then getting sent out on a variety of jobs ranging from the dangerous to the absurd, finally landing up to her neck in Civil War espionage. A page turning yarn with a heroine to root for.
Profile Image for Justkeepreading.
1,874 reviews79 followers
December 31, 2016
Thank you to NetGalley, sourcebooks landmark, and Greet Macallister.

You will find my review on both Goodreads and Amazon. On Goodreads from today under my name of Karen Whittard and on publication date on Amazon under my name K.e.whittard.

I want to start this review by saying I simply love the way this book is written. It reads like a noir film narrative. If you can imagine a dark detective noir style film like the American Horror series Hotel and the way it is narrated and filmed you will have the feel of the writing style of this book down pact.

I love fresh styles of writing. I love something that makes me stop and go wow and take a step back to appreciate the skill that goes into writing so differently.

I was shocked to discover that Mrs Warne was a real person and that the events in the book would have happened but perhaps not the way they are dramatised. Little is known about Mrs Warne. As many files were lots in the Chicago fire in 1871. The book is told in a third person narrative which is perfect for the noir style. The book is told over many different parts or acts and spans 10+ years. The thing I felt was missing was the depth of characters and storyline to make me feel fully connected to the book.

Kate Warne is the first Pinkerton Dectective. In a war affected Chicago the world is full of danger and ruin.
Kate is witty, clever, convincing, convincing. She is able to manipulate people and situations so that she gets right to the heart of the matter.
This book tracks Kate's rise in detectivisum. During the nations time of greatest struggles and turmoil. Kate's triumphs help to shape the country to how it is today. An interesting read with a great narrative.

Happy reading everyone
Profile Image for The Shayne-Train.
365 reviews94 followers
February 7, 2017
This was an extremely interesting look into the life of the first female Pinkerton agent, Mrs. Kate Warne. Well-written with truly fleshed-out characters, you follow Kate through her decision to become the first female operative ("Someone HAS to be the first"), through her training, and into her professional life. Regular investigative case-work turns to war-time intelligence gathering, and there are both triumphs and tragedies aplenty.

I really enjoyed this book. Both the time-period (just pre-Civil War) and the subject matter (the Pinkerton Agency) are favorites of mine, and they are both treated very deftly here.

Highly recommended for fans of both historical crime, and kick-ass female protagonists.
Profile Image for Snooty1.
441 reviews8 followers
March 29, 2017
It's important to note that Kate Warne is a real person, and though the story is fictitious, she truly was an amazing woman.
She was the first female Pinkerton agent, and held her own in a male dominated world. "Someone has to be the first". Many of the events in the story are historically accurate and I am amazed by the harrowing situations she reveled in. The setting is in the 1850s, prior and throughout the civil war and I was captivated by a time, and situation that I knew nearly nothing about. I knew of the Pinkerton agents but didn't realize the part they played in the war effort. It was also nice to the the "Northern" reaction to the war and the hidden intelligence war going on in salons and studies across the Eastern US.
This was such an easy read and well enjoyed!

***Thanks to Netgalley and Sourcebooks for an ARC of this book for my honest review***.
Profile Image for Janelle Dupont.
17 reviews4 followers
July 23, 2023
Okay, this book overall was super good! The beginning was quite slow which made it 4 stars, but after it picked up it got really really good! Definitely recommend!
Profile Image for Rhiannon Johnson.
836 reviews251 followers
March 15, 2017
Read my full review here: http://ivoryowlreviews.blogspot.com/2...

When I read the second book by an author I love, I always hold my breath, but I wasn't let down with Girl in Disguise! I am a person who writes in my books (among us book lovers I know that people are very divided on that!) and I underlined so many witty quips and comebacks by the main character. Just like with The Magician's Lie, Macallister hooks the end of every chapter to keep you reading well after when you thought you'd stop. Not only was this a great detective story, the novel also turns the reader to reflect on themselves, asking questions about character and the characters we play in our lives. This is a five star read and although it is only March, I am expecting this to be on my best of 2017 list in December.
Profile Image for Maine Colonial.
652 reviews174 followers
August 16, 2017
My book club chose this and it will be interesting to see what the group thinks. It was in the barely OK camp for me, despite the inherent interest of the subject. The idea of the first woman Pinkerton's agent joining the company in the 1850s seemed to me to be a can't-miss topic, but this author took what should have been a riveting based-on-a-true-story premise and sucked the life out of it with a pedestrian writing style and a scattered narrative.

Even though the novel is written in the first person, Macallister struggles to make Mrs. Warne a sympathetic character. She's not off-putting, by any means, but it was hard to muster more than mild interest in her, due to the flat tone of the writing. It also seemed a strange choice to me to hop from one case to another in a sort of short story style for the first half of the book. It made the book seem choppy and disconnected.

The second half of the book was a definite improvement, as the Pinkertons' work focused on spying on secessionist plotters, protecting President-Elect Lincoln and running counter-espionage ops on suspected Confederate agents in society. This half of the story hung together much better and had much more life to it. The second half of the book moved my rating from a dislike to an OK.

Oh, and if you're considering listening to the audiobook, let me try to dissuade you from that. Go with print instead. For some reason, the reader chooses to give most of the male characters higher-pitched voices than the females. They are almost cartoonish. Fortunately, she doesn't have to voice a ton of male dialog, but enough so that I wouldn't recommend this way of experiencing the book.
Profile Image for Vicki.
234 reviews57 followers
March 4, 2017
Who would have thought that the Pinkerton Detective Agency actually hired a female detective back in the 1850s? I certainly never did! This fast-paced and suspenseful historical novel is based on the life of that first female Pinkerton, Kate Warne, and she is a fascinating and vividly-drawn character. With a keen mind and a knack for disguises, she quickly becomes an integral part of the Pinkerton team, although it takes a while for her fellow detectives to accept her. This book will be perfect for fans of Amy Stewart’s Girl Waits with Gun, about one of the first female deputy sheriffs in the country. Highly recommended.

Thanks to the publisher for this advance reading copy.
Profile Image for Tammie.
1,353 reviews158 followers
February 9, 2018
For the first female Pinkerton detective, respect is hard to come by. Danger, however, is not.

In the tumultuous years of the Civil War, the streets of Chicago offer a woman mostly danger and ruin-unless that woman is Kate Warne, the first female Pinkerton detective and a desperate widow with a knack for manipulation.

3.5 stars. When I picked up Girl in Disguise I was expecting a mystery novel, but this turned out to be more solidly in the historical fiction category. I also wasn't aware that it was about a real person. Kate Warne really was the first female Pinkerton detective and very little is actually really known about her, besides a few of the cases she was instrumental in solving. She also played a part in seeing President Elect Abraham Lincoln safely to Washington D.C. for his inauguration when there were threats on his life, and acted as a spy during the war.

The cases that were included in the book were all interesting, but since there isn't a whole lot known about Kate Warne's personal life there was a lot of creative license taken by the author with her story. Of course that was necessary to create a book and this is fiction, but I'll be honest and say that I'm not always crazy about reading made up things about real people, even if we do know very little about them. I wasn't completely on board with the way Kate was portrayed in this book, but there were things I did like about her. Despite that, this book was very readable and at times difficult to put down.

If anything, reading this book made me want to know the real stories behind the Pinkerton agents mentioned in this book. I had to look them up and find out which ones were actually based on real people and how the book diverged from the real stories .

Review also posted at Writings of a Reader
Profile Image for Barbara (The Bibliophage).
1,086 reviews152 followers
October 3, 2017
More reviews at TheBibliophage.com.

With Girl in Disguise, Greer Macallister brings us a rip-roaring heroine caught up in a tense and fast-moving world. I read the book in just over 24 hours, which is not normal for me. Definitely a fun, unputdownable choice!

Kate Warne is a widow in Chicago just before the Civil War. She’s not interested in the typical jobs available to support herself. Good thing, because they wouldn’t have made for such an interesting book. Instead, Kate applies for an operative’s position with the Pinkerton Detective Agency. “The Boss” accepts her, and trains her himself. This much we know is actually true. Records also exist about a few of her cases. Macallister adds a few other characters who are historically accurate as well. The rest of the details in Girl in Disguise are historical fiction.

Kate’s is a crack investigator, who works hard to develop her skills. At times she acknowledges how lonely she is, but ultimately remains with few confidantes. She’s a career-driven woman in a time when that’s the rarest of aberrations. Macallister writes Kate as an intriguing character, and moves the plot from case to case at a perfect pace. While I found a few plot points somewhat predictable, that didn’t change my overall enjoyment of the book. I’d also enjoy reading more Kate stories in the future.

This marks the third book I’ve read this year set in the years just before the Civil War. It’s also the second book with Abraham Lincoln in it. Maybe I’m discovering a new trend, as I’ve found this era to be quite interesting historically. In the meantime, I’ll pick up the nonfiction book Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy: Four Women Undercover in the Civil War from my Kindle shelf.
Profile Image for Robin.
314 reviews14 followers
February 24, 2017
This book caught my attention because I loved the idea of a novel about Kate Warne, the first female Pinkerton agent, and I just hoped the writing, plot, and characters would be as good as the premise. I knew from the first few pages they would be.

Excellently written with great characters, fictional and historic alike, the plot takes the reader into the spy world of the Civil War. I did feel as though the romance was a little superficial, but otherwise, I felt the character development was very good, especially Kate's. Told in first person, we really get to see and feel Kate's thoughts and emotions, how she deals with the moral questions of lying, deceiving, and hurting people for the greater good, and how she deals with knowing she'll never have a normal, family life.

The plot is what really drives this though, and I frequently found it hard to put down, always wanting to know what would happen next. Lot's of action and adventure.

I'm interested in the author's first novel now. Though it wasn't a premise I was previously interested in, knowing how much I enjoyed this one, I have to give it a try.

Advanced review copy from the publisher via NetGalley. My opinions are my own.

Historical Readings & Reviews
Profile Image for Rachel.
Author 12 books154 followers
March 8, 2018
"Girl in Disguise" is a fictional book based on the life of Kate Warne, the first woman detective hired by the famous Pinkerton Agency back before the American Civil War. She walks into the Pinkerton agency to ask for a job, wows Mr. Pinkerton himself, and goes on to become one of his finest operatives. Her career takes her all over the US and spans decades, though most of the book occurs during the Civil War while she is spying for the Union Army as part of her Pinkerton duties.

I finished reading this and set out to find a non-fiction biography of Kate Warne because I wanted to know just how much of this book was based in reality and how much was made up. And then I learned something disturbing:

There aren't any biographies of Kate Warne.

In fact, we know almost nothing about her. We don't even for sure have any photographs of her. All we know was she existed, she was the first woman detective, Pinkerton hired her and eventually made her head of his female detective division, she worked as a spy for the Union during the Civil War and helped Pinkerton smuggle Abraham Lincoln through Maryland on his way to his inauguration, and that she's buried near Pinkerton and his family.


So much for me learning all about Kate Warne. Or learning more about her, anyway. Still, I really, really enjoyed this book and look forward to re-reading it one day.
Profile Image for Ashley.
667 reviews715 followers
May 16, 2016
It was a good book, but it didn't quite end up being what I was hoping.

The story read more like a biography in the sense that it covered Kate's entire career (or at least a big portion of it). We're talking like 10+ years. This made me feel a little distanced from the book and the characters.

I would have preferred it if the book honed in on one particular case and really dug deep into the characters, emotions, etc. I would have been a lot more attached and invested!
March 18, 2019
Kate Warne shows up at the Pinkerton National Detective Agency in Chicago to answer the advertisement for operatives.  
While Allan Pinkerton has never even considered the idea of hiring a female operative, he's impressed with Warne, who makes a valid point:

"Sir, here is the crux of it. Women can go places men are not welcome. They can win the trust of other women, the wives and companions to whom the criminals have confided their crimes. They can travel in genteel circles to insinuate themselves with seeming gentlemen. I'm certain the men who work for you have many talents, but there is one thing none of them can do: be a woman."

She's given a trial case that is successfully closed with the help of another operative, Tim Bellamy.  The two have a mutual dislike for one another and Warne finds herself constantly checking her back for male operatives with malicious intentions.

Warne's work speaks for itself; over the course of her first five years as a Pinkerton she becomes a master of disguise and earns the trust of many suspects in order to close high profile cases.  Warne is also trusted by Pinkerton to hire and lead female detectives for the agency.
She gathers evidence for the Adams Express case, disguises herself as a psychic to investigate a poisoning, and is the key player in safely delivering Abraham Lincoln through Baltimore on the way to his inauguration during political unrest. 

When the Civil War begins, Pinkerton sends Warne to find Confederate secrets that will lead to Union victory.  Warne and Bellamy go to Washington undercover as husband and wife to keep an eye on Rose Greenhow, a suspected Confederate spy.

While searching for evidence, Warne and Bellamy fall in love.  When Pinkerton discovers the romance, he is furious.  Bellamy is quickly removed from Washington and sent to Richmond where he is later hanged as a spy.

"My mission had been to find the secrets that would help the Union. Now my mission was to find and punish those responsible for Tim's death. Inasmuch as those missions overlapped, I could do both. But if I had a choice to make, I knew which I would choose."

Heartbroken, Warne uses her fierce determination to track down a traitor in the agency's midst and deliver evidence needed to turn the Civil War in the Union's favor.

When the war is over, Kate must decide who she will become next.

"The woman I'd become since Pinkerton hired me--excited by subterfuge, capable of any and all lies, slipping into and out of identities like dresses-- was she the real me? Had I been her all along, and the good girl I thought myself the real disguise?"

Girl in Disguise pulled me in immediately and I was surprised at how hard it was to put this book down!  The story is told by Warne in a matter of fact way that manages to give us plenty of details but leave us hungry for more.  I loved learning about her past and what led her to become a female operative and while the beginning has us jumping from case to case, the final half is firmly grounded in Civil War intelligence and seeking revenge for Bellamy's death.  While I saw the eventual romance coming from a mile away it was well done and didn't overshadow the story of Kate Warne's legacy.

Macallister has written an excellent piece of historical fiction loosely based on the life and actual cases of the real Kate Warne who was in fact the first female detective/spy hired by Allan Pinkerton.  

If you enjoy historical fiction, Girl in Disguise is definitely a book to stack!

For more reviews, visit www.rootsandreads.wordpress.com
Profile Image for Marleen.
1,758 reviews94 followers
March 22, 2018
From the very first page I knew I was going to enjoy this book, and I wasn’t deceived. This read is a thrilling historical escape. We don’t see women often enough in daring roles circa 1850. For Kate Warne (who’s not a fictional character), to have walked into the Pinkerton Detective Agency and demanding to be an operative was truly extraordinary, and certainly unheard of. From there, I’m sure the author took license to fictionalize many details of her life, because little is known about Kate Warne. Anyway, I had a blast reading this because for one, the spy adventures were perilous and secondly, I empathized with Kate, she was a woman who played a role, most of her life. She wasn't without heartache and had known quite a bit of sorrow, but she always picked herself up. She was determined and strong and that was so appealing. She needed a cause and she found that in spying for justice and her country.
Furthermore, I was pleasantly surprised by Greer Macallister’s easy-flowing and compelling writing style. I couldn’t wait to get back home from work and continue to get entertained by Mrs. Warne and her Pinkerton colleagues.
More on the real Kate Warne can be found here:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kate_Warne
Profile Image for Lynda Loigman.
Author 4 books1,478 followers
March 29, 2017
In her second novel, Greer Macallister gives us a glimpse into the dangerous and fascinating life of Kate Warne, the very first female Pinkerton detective. Because I had no prior knowledge of Kate to draw upon, I held my breath throughout the descriptions of her adventures, many of which were based on actual cases.

Macallister’s novel is so well-researched that we feel as if we are there alongside Kate, from the streets of Chicago to an evening in Baltimore helping to thwart an assassination attempt on Abraham Lincoln.

For me, some of the best parts of the story are the ones where Macallister explores Kate's personal life. What was it about her upbringing and early adult life that made her so well suited to the unusual profession of detective and spy? Macallister weaves fiction and fact to give us the answers, creating a fast-paced and thought-provoking read.
Profile Image for Terri  Wino.
692 reviews61 followers
September 21, 2017
I really enjoyed this book and definitely recommend if you like historical fiction. This book was based on Kate Warne, the real-life first female detective to work for the Pinkerton Agency. I found the fictional Kate a scrappy, complex character who certainly doesn't give up easily when facing a challenge.

My only complaint -- and reason I didn't give a fourth star -- is the book felt a bit rushed to me. As if too much was trying to be crammed in too short of a book. As a few other reviews have mentioned, this was sort of a missed opportunity. With this character, and the number of investigations the real Kate must have been a part of, this would have made a fantastic series! This book left me feeling a bit unsatisfied and definitely left me wanting more.
Profile Image for Lesa Divine.
977 reviews199 followers
June 27, 2018
Not as historical as I thought it'll be. To be dated 1861 there barely was description of that nature to me as the reader.
Kate a woman that break into the business as becoming a private detective.
2 🌟 was basically I finished with a bit of scanning mostly. But wasn't something likable to me nor mysterious.
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